Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Isabella Valancey Crawford b. c.1857–87

The Axe

HIGH grew the snow beneath the low-hung sky,

And all was silent in the wilderness;

In trance of stillness Nature heard her God

Rebuilding her spent fires, and veiled her face

While the Great Worker brooded o’er His work.

“Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree!

What doth thy bold voice promise me?”

“I promise thee all joyous things

That furnish forth the lives of kings!

“For every silver ringing blow,

Cities and palaces shall grow!”

“Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree!

Tell wider prophecies to me.”

“When rust hath gnawed me deep and red,

A nation strong shall lift his head.

“His crown the very Heavens shall smite,

Æons shall build him in his might!”

“Bite deep and wide, O Axe, the tree;

Bright Seer, help on thy prophecy!”

Max smote the snow-weighed tree, and lightly laughed.

“See, friend,” he cried to one that looked and smiled,

“My axe and I—we do immortal tasks—

We build up nations—this my axe and I!”